NANOTECHNOLOGY: Use of nanoparticles in bioremediation

Nanotechnology can also play important role in pollution sensing and remediation of contaminated agricultural lands, groundwater and drinking water by exploiting novel properties of nanomaterials. Nanosensors are capable of detecting microbes, moisture content and chemical pollutants at very minute levels. Photocatalysis using metal oxide semiconductor nanostructures can degrade organic pesticides and industrial pollutants into harmless and often useful components (Baruah and Dutta, 2009). This technology can help in the remediation of contaminated agricultural lands and water bodies. Efficiency of the nanoscale iron particles have been demonstrated for transformation and detoxification of a wide variety of common environmental contaminants, such as chlorinated organic solvents, organochlorine pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (Zhang, 2003). Lanthanum nanoparticles can absorb phosphates in aqueous environments. Application of these nanoparticles in water bodies can absorb available phosphates thus preventing the algal growth (Joseph and Morrison, 2006). Nanofiltration (NF) has been shown to be an effective way of removing organic micropollutants from drinking water due to its size exclusion properties (Dixon et al. 2010). Buyers and Sellers

Nanotechnology offers efficient crop improvement through genetic manipulation by using nano-tools like, nanoparticles, nanofibres and nanocapsules. Among these, nano-fibre arrays which can deliver genetic material to cells quickly and efficiently have potential applications in crop engineering (Nair et al. 2010). Single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) can traverse across both the plant cell wall and cell membrane (Liu et al. 2009 and can serve as effective nanotransporters to deliver DNA and small dye molecules into intact plant cells, thus can be used as small treatment delivery systems in plants (Gonzales-Melendi et al. 2008). Integration of carbon nanofibres surface modified with plasmid DNA, with viable cells has been reported for gene transfer in plant cells, resulting in controlled biochemical manipulations in the regenerated plant (McKnight et al. 2003; McKnight et al. 2004). Integration of the transferred DNA into host genome can be prevented by tethering it on carbon nanofibres. Due to this non-integration the expression of the tethered DNA can be restricted to one generation of cells and the trait does not pass to further generations. The fluorescent labelled starch-nanoparticles induce instantaneous pore channels in cell wall, cell membrane and nuclear membrane and can be used as transgenic vehicle to transports genes in the plant cells (Jun et al. 2008). Surface functionalized mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) can also penetrate plant cell walls, delivering DNA and its activators in a controlled fashion for precise manipulation of gene expression at single cell level. The MSNs are loaded with DNA and its chemical inducer and capped by gold nanoparticles to prevent the release of loaded molecules. After penetration into the plant cells the uncapping induced by chemical treatment, releases the DNA and its inducer thus resulting in controlled expression of the gene/s (Torney et al. 2007). With the advancement in imaging techniques movement of fluorescent labled nanoparticles carrying foreign DNA can be tracked across the cell wall, thus gene transfer mechanisms can be understood and improved further.

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